By Gerry Barker
October 20, 2018
Let’s say you are not planning to vote on Monday.
The reasons vary such as, I’m too busy to bother; my vote won’t make any difference; my daughter has the measles; I don’t like any of the candidates; I rarely vote at all so, why now? Finally, my boss won’t give me time off work to vote.
Well, here’s why.
For the past 12 years the progressive left, first under former mayor, Karen Far bridge, and then under Mayor Cam Guthrie has dominated the city administration. In his case he was a closet conservative who went along with the progressive majority on council, to get along.
The last of our years
Perhaps we should work backwards examining the city operations under Mr. Guthrie.
In 2015, it started with the Guthrie election promise of keeping the property tax at the same level as the Consumer Price Index that was 1.99 per cent. Council approved the 2015 budget in March that year and the property tax increase was 3.96 per cent, that had to be adjusted to reflect the increase in assessment of all properties in the city.
That election campaign promise has evaporated in the mayor’s first term. In fact, the estimated four years of property taxes cumulative effect is 18 per cent. This includes the two-year property tax of two per cent levy was imposed two years ago.
Then, in December 2015, a closed session of council awarded $98,202 salary increases between four senior managers: CAO Ann Pappert, DCAO’s Al Horsman, Mark Amorosi and Derrick Thomson. Only Mr. Thomson remains as CAO.
Fast-forward and the Guthrie council conducted 82 closed session meetings in the first two years in office. This did not include the closed meeting of the Strategic Options Committee that led to the take-over of Guelph Hydro by Alectra Utilities. The Ontario Energy Board approved this multi-million dollar deal October 18, 2018, just five days before the civic election.
Sure you still won’t bother voting Monday?
Here are more reasons to take the time to vote.
Mayor Guthrie stated in a pre-election announcement that a new Public Private Proposal (3P) to spend an estimated $350 million in today’s dollars, on redevelopment of the Baker Street parking lot. The private partner is Windmill Developments based in Ottawa. The Mayor said there would be a new downtown library included in the plan.
Sounds exciting, right?
The project will not start construction until 2024. It is estimated it will take another four years at least to get the new library open and running. That’s more than ten years from now. The public’s share of this project has yet to be determined. As an aside, the city claims it has already invested $29 million of Baker Street renovation.
Note that part of that investment includes the $22 million five storey Parkade being built next to city hall with no connection to the Baker Street proposal.
This Hocus Pocus financing is a bargaining chip negotiating with the private Baker Street partner.
In the six years waiting for construction to start, inflation will add another 12 per cent to the current estimated cost. That’s more than $42 million. Mr. Guthrie won’t be mayor plus council will have a number of new members.
If you believe this data, don’t bother to vote because you can’t change it. Wrong!
Your vote is vital as s the city administration must change.
You see, the progressives don’t want you to vote. The Bloc of Seven majority on council forced a vote denying the use of Online voting in 2018. Their reasons were smothered in a wave of academic opinion claiming that E-voting created “massive security holes” thereby was dangerous.
This is an example of power over reality. In 2014, some 12,767 citizens voted Online without a single glitch or complaint. The progressive saw their leader defeated and four councillors either were defeated or did not run.
How do you change it?
Make sure to vote Monday. You have your voting card and all you need is a driver’s licence, or utility bill, or property tax statement. Your health card must have your address, some of them don’t.
Guelphspeaks.ca believes there are a number of excellent candidates ready to serve their city. This election will be different and hopefully bring change accompanied by accountability, transparency and open government.
Once elected, the candidate not only serves his or her ward but they become the stewards of the city representing all the people.
Finally, thousands of Canadians in the past 100 years gave their lives to preserve our way of life. That includes freedom of speech, public participation in government.
A personal remembrance is that of my father, his two brothers and his sister who served in France in the First World War. John Sydney Barker and Thomas Mitchell Barker were both killed in action. My parents honoured their memory by naming me after them.
It brings sadness and privilege to remember that more than 100,000 Canadians gave their lives in two world wars. They have paid a terrible price to secure our freedom.
Let’s remember them by voting this Monday.